Constable: Murray brother knows Cubs, golf fashion
On the cusp of the most talented Cubs team in more than a century raising the 2016 championship banner Monday at Wrigley Field, a comedian/actor/Cubs fan with the last name of Murray still fondly remembers another famous Cubs team.
"The 1969 Cubs," says Joel Murray, the Wilmette native and actor who turns 54 later this month and is a partner with his five brothers in their new clothing line called, "William Murray Golf."
Younger than his legendary brother Bill by a dozen years, and younger than his also-famous brother Brian Doyle-Murray by 18 years, Joel Murray remembers how that 1969 Cubs team helped him through a difficult summer.
"My dad died in 1967," remembers Joel, who notes that Ed Murray, a 46-year-old father of nine who worked at a lumberyard, didn't have access to today's lifesaving kidney treatments. "My mom (Lucille) went back to work in '69."
Brian was in California. Ed joined the Air Force and went to Vietnam. Sister Nancy had become an actual "sister" by joining the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
And 6-year-old Joel, the youngest, was under the direct supervision of his sister Laura that summer while their mom worked a variety of jobs. The pair spent some days at the beach and some days at Wrigley Field.
"For $5 you could get two bleacher seats and ride the 'L' back and forth," Joel says. "And if we found some change in the couch cushions, we could get a Ron Santo Pizza."
Just as Bill Murray is a true Cubs fan who speaks sincerely about his love of Wrigley, Joel rattles off the names on the 1969 Cubs roster as if they were part of the Murray household. His favorite player was second-baseman Glenn Beckert, while his sister preferred shortstop Don Kessinger.
While everybody remembers Santo, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins, Joel remembers rooting for "Gentleman" Jim Hickman in right field, reliever and "submarine pitcher" Ted Abernathy with his unusual near-underhand delivery, and even lesser players such as Don Young and Adolfo Phillips, who figuratively and sometimes literally dropped the ball in center field. Joel still has their baseball cards.
"I've got that whole team in cards. That's one of the few things in my gun safe," says Joel. "I don't have any weapons, but I've got the '69 Cubs."
Joel won critical acclaim for his role on "Mad Men" as Freddy Rumsen, who drew laughs by playing Mozart on his pants zipper, and made fans gasp when he wet his pants during an alcohol-fueled low point. You also might know Joel from his roles on TV shows such as "Shameless," "Dharma and Greg," "Mike and Molly" and "Two and a Half Men," as well as movies such as "One Crazy Summer," "God Bless America" and "The Artist."
Joel lives in Los Angeles, where he and his wife of 28 years, actress Eliza Coyle, have raised three sons, ages 18, 25 and 27, and have a 16-year-old daughter in high school.
"I was a basketball coach for 15 years. That's one of the beauties of being an out-of-work actor," Joel says, adding that a neighbor kid always wondered how Joel could be in his Cubs pajamas fetching the newspaper while other dads were at work.
"You can have 300 days off a year and still send your kids to school."
Joel went to 20 Cubs games in five cities last year. And no, he doesn't need Bill to get him great seats. Joel serves as master of ceremonies for the Hot Stove Cool Music benefit concerts run by Cubs President Theo Epstein. He's gotten to know the Ricketts family, especially through their mutual involvement in charity events. And he has breakfast with Joe Maddon from time to time.
Joel has joined his brothers -- actors Bill, Brian and John, chef Andy and financial executive Ed -- in the Murray Bros. Caddyshack restaurant in St. Augustine, Florida.
Plans to open a second Caddyshack restaurant and bar in Rosemont have yet to be finalized, but Rosemont Mayor Brad Stevens says he'd be happy to have the Murray brothers set up shop in town.
All the Murray boys were caddies at Indian Hill Club in Winnetka growing up, and those experiences led to the classic movie, "Caddyshack," which featured three of the brothers, but not Joel, who was focusing on his career as a standout defensive back and captain of his Loyola Academy football team. Joel acted in plays in grade school, high school and college before abandoning his football dreams and following his older brothers' path at Second City.
Inducted with his brothers into The Caddie Hall of Fame in 2015, Joel says the William Murray Golf line is all about comfort.
"A lot of it is about not being a stiff," says Joel, who remembers the fun he'd have on the days when caddies were allowed to golf at Indian Hill Club.
"You'd play one round barefoot, and you'd play the second round shirtless, and at the end of it, you'd end up looking like Jim McMahon."
McMahon, the "punky QB" quarterback for the 1985 Chicago Bears team that went on to win Super Bowl XX, is a friend of the Murray family and golfs with them in plenty of celebrity tournaments for charity.
Golfing on a recent hot day in Palm Springs, California, Joel says he didn't even sweat while wearing one of the William Murray Golf shirts. He also spent three hours in the cart talking about designs for spring of 2018.
"The brothers are all part of this," he says, explaining how the style exudes the coolness synonymous with Bill Murray.
"If we can get these young kids' interest, maybe they will keep some of these great courses alive."
In the meantime, the Murray brothers clearly have surpassed the Baldwin brothers as America's favorite sibling actors.
Joel and his fellow cast members on the Emmy-nominated TV show, "Whose Line Is It Anyway?", will take their improv show to Chicago's City Winery on May 2.
Joel, who openly admits that brothers Bill and Brian were his "comedic idols," understands that every story about him mentions his famous brothers, especially the iconic Bill.
"I'm walking around Palm Springs with a shirt that says, 'William Murray,'" Murray says.
"There's a lot worse brothers. You could be Putin's brother or Sean Spicer's brother."